North Dakota Lawmakers Pass Personhood Measure

North Dakota’s state insect is the lady bug, but right now the state is just bugging ladies (let alone everyone who cares about women’s rights).

On Friday, North Dakota’s legislature approved a measure that would define life as starting at conception, giving personhood to fertilized eggs in the state Constitution. It’s  the first time a personhood measure has passed in a state legislature. The North Dakota House approved the measure in a 75-35 vote (it had already been approved by the state Senate), and it will now go to voters as a referendum in November 2014,  If it goes into effect, the measure would effectively ban all abortions in the state.

Another measure passed by the state House on Friday is a bill that would require abortion clinic physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. This particular measure is obviously designed to shut down the state’s only abortion clinic in Fargo, and is commonly known as a TRAP law. It now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature (or veto).

On top of these bills, the North Dakota House narrowly pushed down another Senate-approved bill that would have prohibited the intentional destruction of embryos, the goal being to block stem-cell research.

“Planned Parenthood will continue to fight these legislative attacks on women’s health in partnership with a broad coalition of doctors, patients, teachers, lawyers and other concerned North Dakotans who do not want to see politicians inserting themselves into the private medical decision-making of women and families in our state,” said Sarah Stoesz, the head of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock hopes North Dakota voters will see through this attack on Roe v. Wade and reject it.

I am outraged that North Dakota women’s rights and personal health are under attack by extreme politicians. Not only is the personhood bill extraordinarily dangerous, it’s unconstitutional.

 Photo of North Dakota state capitol in Bismarck by jimbowen0306 via Creative Commons 2.0.


Associate editor of Ms. magazine